Making a Difference: Service Dogs for Children -, GA News Weather & Sports

Making a Difference: Service Dogs for Children


At Alabama Christian Academy Matt Watters is not alone in his class and no we're not talking about the fact he is surrounded by classmates. He has a four-legged friend at his feet.

Piper is a black Lab, a service dog and a lifesaver.

"She gives my parents peace of mind and they feel more secure," Watters said.

Watters is a ninth grader at ACA and suffers from juvenile diabetes. Piper is trained to alert Watters when his blood sugar gets too low, the kind of drop the 15-year-old may not realize right away. Piper's power of smell tells her she needs to let Matt know something's wrong.

Talk about making a difference in a time of need.

"She'll nudge me and I'll know then I'll need to fix it," Watters said.

Piper is a quiet dog but mighty gifted. Piper was donated to Service Dogs for Children when she was a puppy. The training involved is not cheap -- $21,000. The organization relies solely on donations.

"We match them up according to their personality and family lifestyle and then we award them to the children when the dogs are finished," said Dogs On Call Director Frances McGowin.

McGowin says they train mainly labs, golden retrievers and poodles.

Piper not only knows what to do when Matt has a medical emergency but knows a few tricks as well. On Matt's commands Piper will stand and give him a kiss.

Matt Watters and Piper are friends for life in good times and bad -- the mark of a loyal companion.

Service dogs are given to families for free. If you're interested in learning more about the program that trains service dogs like Piper go to or you can call at 334-395-4489. McGowin says the program welcomes contributors.

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